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High/Scope Educational Approach: Theory & Curriculum Model

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  • 0:03 Early Childhood Education
  • 0:48 What Is Constructivism?
  • 2:50 High/Scope Approach
  • 5:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How can teachers engage students in learning through active exploration of their environment? In this lesson, we'll explore the constructivist High/Scope approach to early childhood education, including what it is and its five central tenets.

Early Childhood Education

Lori is a kindergarten teacher. She loves her job and her students, but she wonders if she's the best teacher she can be. Are there things she could do to make her classroom more engaging, exciting, and educational? Lori works in early childhood education, which is focused on the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth of students from preschool to third grade. As a kindergarten teacher, Lori is right in the middle of that group.

There are many ways to approach early childhood education. To help Lori make her class more engaging and educational, let's take a closer look at constructivism, and specifically, the High/Scope approach to education.

What Is Constructivism?

Lori believes that it's her job to give knowledge to her students. As such, she spends time telling them what they should know and how to do things. For many people, Lori's approach probably sounds pretty familiar. After all, that's how many teachers do it.

But some teachers choose a different approach. These teachers have noticed that children naturally explore and learn from their environment. They see the role of an educator as supporting the children's natural inclination to learn.

The idea that education should be about letting students explore and develop with only a little guidance from the teacher is called constructivism. It's based on the research of psychologists like Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, both of whom lived around a hundred years ago. Independently, they both noticed that children learn a lot just through interacting with others and exploring their environment. They stressed that children are active learners and constantly try to make sense of the world. In the process, they grow and develop.

So how is constructivism different from other, more traditional methods of education? Well, let's think about Lori. She wants her students to learn about mixing colors to make new ones. The way she's always taught it, she tells the students that if they mix blue and red, they'll get purple. Then, she might show them how to do that by mixing food coloring in front of them so that they can see that blue and red food coloring make purple. She might then continue by showing them how to make green and orange.

But with a constructivist approach, Lori might give the children food coloring and tell them to see if they can mix some new colors using just red, blue, and yellow. She'll help them experiment, but they'll decide what to mix and how. In essence, she'll help them discover how to create purple, green, and orange, but they'll discover it on their own. It's like they are constructing their own understanding of things, hence the name constructivism.

High/Scope Approach

Lori thinks that constructivism sounds interesting, but she's not sure what to do from here. There are many different constructivist curricula. One is called the High/Scope approach to learning. In the High/Scope approach, children construct their own knowledge through exploration and experimentation. As they do that, they're guided by educators, who provide materials and support for children to meet certain developmental challenges known as key experiences.

There are five major elements of the High/Scope curriculum:

1. Active Learning

As mentioned, a major principle of constructivism is that children are active learners. The High/Scope approach focuses on ways that children can actively develop their own understanding while being supported by teachers and staff.

2. Classroom Arrangement

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